Illegal trade in wildlife continues

Story by SASCHA WILSON

An adult Yellow Crowned Parrot found by police. (Image: TTPS)

The carcasses of a baby otter and 43 baby parrots were among 71 animals found locked in the trunks of two vehicles intercepted by the police in Palo Seco on Saturday.

It is believed that the animals died from extreme heat and starvation.  The drivers of the vehicles told police they picked up the animals on the beach.

The animals included 65 Yellow-Crowned parrots, four Giant Otters and two Capuchin Monkeys. It is believed they were smuggled into the country via boat to be sold on the black market.

There have been numerous reports of animals, people and drugs being brought into the country through illegal ports of entry along the Southwestern Peninsula on a daily basis.

Acting on a tip-off, Santa Flora police stopped two vehicles which were proceeding along Beach Road, Palo Seco, around 12:30 pm on Saturday. The drivers, a 39-year-old PH driver and a 33-year-old labourer, both of Diego Martin, were the only occupants of the vehicles.

Upon searching the vehicles, the officers found the monkey and parrots in wicker baskets, while the otters were found in a cardboard box in the trunks. The drivers were arrested and they, along with the animals, were taken to the police station.

According to reports, the officers contacted Senior Game Warden Steve Seepersad, who subsequently charged the drivers.

The older suspect was charged with 46 counts of possession of protected animals, including 40 parrots, the four otters and two monkeys. The other driver has been charged with 25 counts of possession of protected parrots.

The animals were handed over to the Emperor Valley Zoo. 

The men have been charged but given the Judiciary’s changes in courts operations due to COVID-19 it is uncertain whether the men will be taken to the Siparia Magistrates Court on Monday or appear before a magistrate via video conference from the police station.